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BlackBean Supreme Recipe

Several people have asked me for my recipe for Black Bean (Supreme) soup.

 No worries. Here you go:


1 lb dried black beans

Water to cover beans in pot

1 green pepper, seeded and quartered

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp dried cilantro leaves 

1+lb smoked pork hocks

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt

Soak beans in a saucepan/stockpot overnight. Ensure that there is at least 3" water over top of beans at the beginning of soaking. Add more so that beans are completely immersed as needed.  After soaking put pepper, bay leaves, pig parts (pork), garlic, baking soda and salt on the stovetop and bring to a mild simmer. Skim the scum as it forms with a spoon. Let cook for 1.5-2hrs. Remove bay leaves and peppers and throw them away. Pull pork from the pot, remove meat from bone (should be tender enough to pull easily by hand; if not, cook it s'more) and set aside.

2 onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

5-6 slices bacon

1 Tb cumin

2 Tb dried basil

1Tb ground chipotle

1 Tb Adobo pepper, ground

1/4 c salsa

~1 quart Swanson's chicken stock

Slice bacon into 1" pieces and fry in a pan large enough to accommodate all of these ingredients. Fry bacon to the boundary of flimsy and crisping. Chuck onions, pepper, celery into bacon grease and cook until soft. Add fresh minced garlic, cumin, basil, chipotle, adobo and salsa to the mix and cook for another 3-4 mins. Add chicken stock and let boil.

Add this mixture to the beans/water in the larger pan, stir and let simmer, uncovered, for another 45 mins or so. 

1/4 cup cooking sherry

1 bunch fresh cilantro, top 2/3 minced

Add sherry and cilantro to the mix. Stir the cauldron.

 Remove 4 cups of bean/broth mix and put in blender. BE CAREFUL WHEN BLENDERIZING HOT LIQUIDS. I'VE PAINTED MY KITCHEN WITH PUREE MORE THAN ONCE. Puree into a muddy mix (eeew!). Return this to the bean pot. Add pork. 


Garnish with dollop of sour cream, grated cheese and/or diced red onion.

Wipe the drizzly bits off your chin before you ask for seconds. 


Lighten Up!

It's been many weeks since I started this low-carbohydrate nutrition plan (note the absence of the word 'Diet,' it's a lifestyle now, mate.). I'm convinced that it is The Way To Go.


 Results, first and foremost.

The last time I saw evidence of my abdominal musculature I was incinerating thousands of calories every day in Ironman triathlon training. You can certainly force the fat from your frame when you spend hours doing heavy breathing every day. However, when LIFE interrupts your routine a high volume of exercise isn't always sustainable. In that system, if the exercise slows/stops, it's very difficult to put a whoa on Mr. Appetite and it isn't long before you accumulate middle muscle.

By taming the Insulin Monster I've not only cut carb calories from my daily intake and I'm preferentially burning fat as fuel. Getting lean was never ever this easy. I'm surprised, amazed, and pleased. Best bit: no hunger.

I have loosely followed the South Beach Diet recommendations but haven't really broken out of what is referred to as Phase I. My understanding is that if anything tickles a trickle of insulin into the circulation the exit doors on the fat cells are locked down for several hours, denying the body's use of fat as fuel. Hunger comes knocking in an hour or so.  I've aimed to curb my intake of any carbohydrates to accentuate the lightening of my lard load. The mirror and my waistline reports that it's working.

Is it hard?

Only if I think it is. And I believe that is where many people come off the rails with these plans. Perhaps they don't understand the power that insulin has in either stuffing the cells with fat or, in its absence, allowing the fat to be released for burning. Knowing  that has allowed me to make low-carb/no-carb food choices and get results. Some won't like being 'denied' some of their favorite foods. I'll suggest that years of stuffing our pie holes with fast/easy/sugary/cheap sources of carbofuel has left many of us unknowingly addicted to carbohydrates. I KNOW that I was (and probably still am - now I'm in recovery!). Once I got away from CHO's long enough for my metabolism to normalize, however, I feel different. And fantastic!

If you feel deprived, you will be.

However, if you don't take ownership and responsibility for your choices you're stuck with what you see in the mirror. Like it?

 You can change it. You can feel better, look better, be better. And. It's. Not. Hard.

I did it. You can too. 

 That's food for thought, eh?




The Naked Truth

Author Gary Taubes has made me hungry. For truth. The Naked Truth.

I listened to a compelling interview with Taubes, a science journalist and author of the book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories : challenging the conventional wisdom on diet, weight control and disease’ on NPR recently. You can hear that interview here.

Taubes spent a half decade researching and writing this book and he lifted my eyebrows several times on the [sometimes dubious] origins of our current thinking on the relationship of diet (ie, what and how we eat) to obesity, to weight loss, to heart disease and other conditions.

Taubes wrote this book as a scientist would: without the aim to defend or deny any dietary dogma. Rather, he let the weight of evidence guide him to his conclusions. And those conclusions poke some holes in popular thinking.

My first encounter with trying to understand human nutrition came when I rolled off the couch nearly ten years ago. My too-tight pants (Wranglers had become Stranglers) told me I was at the crossroads of fitness or fatness. Fitnessfolk told me that nutrition must play a role in my battle of the bulge if I was serious about winning it.

So off I went to meet the ‘Fat Lady.’ That was my affectionate name for Alison Rainbow , a sharp Auckland, NZ-based sports nutritionist and former champion bodybuilder. My aim was to reduce bodyfat and Ali gave me my first insight about the important relationship between protein, fat and carbohydrates. She had me compile a food diary, recording everything I ate for a week, and when we reviewed it she asked the simple question: ‘Where’s your protein, mate?’

Um, whaddya mean? I’m eating low-fat.

That’s precisely the problem. It’s all carbohydrates.

I was at  a doughy-soft 21% bodyfat. With Alison’s guidance on eating and exercising properly I cut that percentage in half in six months’ time.

Goal achieved.

I thought I had it figured out.

The fruits of success grow on Opportuni-trees

opportuni-tree.jpgI was driving the backroads of rural Wisconsin in early October to take in the autumn hardwood spectacle. It’s brilliant when the hillsides of maples, oaks and sumacs shed their coats of green to reveal crimson and gold underwear. (Then a few weeks later they get naked for winter and that can get ugly).

As I motored along, taking in nature’s Big Show, I came upon an amazing apple tree. It was festooned with perfect, ripe apples hanging like glass balls on a Christmas tree. I screechstopped and reversed to marvel at this bonus of beauty.

The Red Delicious tree reminded me of a recent conversation I'd had with my friend Andy Little about success. Andy said we often have opportunities hanging all around us but it takes two things to convert them to success: Awareness and Action.

“If we can’t recognize the opportunity – see it, smell it, hear its clue in a conversation - then it will never be an opportunity to us.”

It’s still an opportunity - A Lost One.

“And maybe we are aware of the opportunity but can’t take action – we can’t pick it because of timing, because of a lack of resources, because we can’t find the courage – and the chance to sample the fruit of success eludes us again.”

The discovery of this unpicked tree in a rural orchard was a case of being in the right place at the right time – as is often the way with opportunity. Had I needed to get to my destination (I have to WORK, I have a BIG meeting today - I don’t have time to look for little opportunities!) I’d have taken a major highway and never seen it. Had I been too tight on time I couldn’t have stopped to discover that the apples were easily within my reach.

ripe fruit.jpg
I call this remarkable find the Opportuni-tree. As Andy Little said, we have to be able to first recognize the fruit and then be able/willing  to pick it to achieve success.

Simple. Delicious. 

And fruit for thought...

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